State auditor explains 'no' vote to mining exploration in NE Minnesota


State Auditor Rebecca Otto was in Ely Tuesday to explain why she voted last month against mineral exploration by mining companies in parts of northeastern Minnesota, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

Otto's vote in a meeting of the state Executive Council rankled the pro-copper mining community, as she became the first state official to announce opposition to the state's move to copper mining.

In the end, Otto was outvoted 4-1 in the balloting by the five-member council, a move that allowed 31 mineral exploration leases to go ahead, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

The council includes Gov. Mark Dayton, Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon, Attorney General Lori Swanson and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

The after-effects of her vote appear to be lingering. The News Tribune said opponents of Otto's stance, even some of her fellow DFLers, have called for an opponent to run against her in the next election.

On Tuesday, Otto was greeted with "Dump Otto" signs on several utility poles leading from downtown to Grand Ely Lodge on Shagawa Lake, the paper said.

Defending her vote, Otto argued that too many times mining companies have folded up their operations and left taxpayers with the bill for cleaning up an environmental mess.

She also noted how the "Dump Otto" signs were somewhat appropriate, the News Tribune said.

"I’m trying to avoid dumping (copper mine) cleanup costs on taxpayers," Otto said.

According to MPR, Otto told the approximate 75 people at Tuesday's meeting that the state needs to know more about the effects of copper-nickel mining, and that she voted "no" to make a point.

"I need to draw it to people's attention, whether we embark on this or not, that we understand what's at stake for us as a state, and the taxpayers of the state," she said.

MPR said one attendee praised Otto at meeting for sticking her neck out; while another said she's not thinking about how mining adds to the state's tax base while she's "looking out for the taxpayers."

Next Up

All Energy Solar Residential Installation

End 'renting' from your utility company and go solar

A solar installation is one of the few home improvements that actually pays for itself.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Hornets erupt in 2nd half to blow out Timberwolves

The Timberwolves were outscored 73-46 after halftime.


Authorities investigate fatal Bloomington house fire

One person has been reported dead in the fire.

Minneapolis skyline

New tool helps Minneapolis homeowners disavow racial covenants in deeds

A new free program connects homeowners with the City Attorney's office to complete the process

Kyle Rudolph

Watch: Vikings create tribute video for Kyle Rudolph

Rudolph's 10-year tenure with the Vikings ended when he was released on Tuesday.

Zach Parise

Wild scratch Zach Parise for Wednesday's game vs. Vegas

Parise will be a healthy scratch for the second time in his 16-year career.

shawn myers 1

Charges: Windham hospital patient threatened to kill staff, spit on them

Shawn Myers is charged with felony terroristic threats.

kaplans tiktok

Minnesota grandparents go viral for 'distancing duo' songs on TikTok

Their most recent duet about getting their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has gotten more than 67,000 likes.

CHS Field

Start of St. Paul Saints season delayed to May

Major League Baseball says it's being 'prudent' in delaying the minor league season.